Introduction: How to Locate Pinhole Cameras

Picture of How to Locate Pinhole Cameras

The method for locating pinhole cameras is the same as the method for locating field spiders. All you need is a source of light like a flashlight and decent eyesight. It also helpful to have a toilet paper tube.

Step 1: Get a Tube

Picture of Get a Tube

Find a tube that's good for looking through. A cardboard tube from a roll of toilet paper or paper towels is best.

Step 2: Get a Flashlight

Picture of Get a Flashlight

All you need is a flashlight or something that you can use to focus a beam of light in a dark room. Attaching a couple of directional LEDs to the outside of the cardboard tube can work also if you don't have a flashlight.

Step 3: Look Through It.

Picture of Look Through It.

With one hand, hold up the toilet paper tube to your eye. With your other hand, hold up the flashlight at about eye level and point it away from you. With one eye, look through the tube and scan the room. If there are any small points of light bouncing back, inspect it further. It might be a camera.

Step 4: I Found One.

Picture of I Found One.

If you found a camera, it can be easily disabled simply by putting something in front of it. If it is in the wall, hang a poster over it. If it is in something like a flower pot, put a box in front of it.

Or you could just unplug it, but that would make it very clear that you know they're spying on you.


MingleW (author)2016-09-22

Sometimes your shopping experience can without difficulty be marred via the hidden digital camera in the trial room which data you at your barest to feed some sick person’s delusion.

How to detect a hidden camera in trial room @

FrenchCrawler (author)2008-05-15

Nice Instructable.... but....

"Or you could just unplug it, but that would make it very clear that you know they're spying on you."

Wouldn't they get suspicious when you "further inspect" any place where light was bouncing off? If they're looking at the monitor(s) while you're looking directly at the camera, I'm pretty certain they're gonna know you know.

Unfortunately, there's almost no way you're gonna be certain that someone isn't "watching" you (other then painting everything over and buying new furnishings).

karlarward (author)FrenchCrawler2009-02-20

I was just thinking that, too. how far away do they have to be to use these cameras where would the receivers be? are they (cameras) run on electricity or by battery? would flipping off the electricity shut off the camera? Yup, I'm paranoid, very. i moved into a little town filled with people that never leave their houses......found 3 marijuana plants IN OUR BACKYARD. this town spooks me

Marijuana grows wild in many places. I'm told it doesn't have the chemicals to get you high.

I don't care what anyone or any site says marijuana growing in the wild can get u high as a kite but it will mostlikely be seeded and will not produce nearly as much or as nice of Buds .

hitachi8 (author)superbeetlejosh2010-07-13

lol , Marijuana grow with the chemical to get you high NORMALY .

ininstructables (author)2015-04-04

Use chewing gum instead
When u enter a trail room and u noticed a black hole around just insert some of your chewing gum on it ?

robac (author)2008-05-09

what's the point of this instructable? i mean is this common that you have pinhole spy cameras all over your houses and you must find a special way of finding them?

Jake-off (author)robac2008-05-09

try thinking pervs in a hotel

havefunwithme (author)Jake-off2015-03-31

Ive got to thank you Jake-off for your great idea. I have now made $1M from recording hotel fun with hidden cameras and selling the content to a japanese company (all legal as recorded in a country with no privacy laws). In the early days the cameras were difficult to conceal but now I have 4 running at HD in devices that have a 4 hour battery life in objects that no one has ever suspected. My agent now wants me use drones as well. Anyway, I owe you a few JDs !

Lithium Rain (author)Jake-off2008-05-10


Big brother is watching you...

hahaha. thats hilarious. I loved that book.

haha the guy that made this instructables name is winston so hes just paranoid. if u find one in a tv it might be a telescreen though...

karlarward (author)mappum2009-02-20

whats a telescreen? hey, you never know when theres people out there voyeristic i think they're called

superlox3 (author)mappum2008-05-22

The name "w1n5t0n" comes from Cory Doctorow's novel "Little Brother". It's a fantastic book, you should give it a read. Likewise, most (if not all) of the instructables posted by w1n5t0n are used or commented on in Little Brother.

mappum (author)superlox32008-05-22

and maybe little brother a reference to big brother? :P thanks ill consider reading it


*nervously looks over shoulder*

the thought police are everywhere...

ramroids55 (author)Lithium Rain2008-06-10

Ahh, i hated that book. We had to read it in my senior English calss, AND watch the movie..not the newer one, the one made in the 1940's..the ending pissed me

Lithium Rain (author)ramroids552008-06-11

Why did you hate the book? I didn't like the ending in the book myself.

Cousin eddie (author)Jake-off2008-05-10

dont forget employers who use them to monitor their employees (to catch thieves mostly). I've worked in security & have seen these in action. I am also a bit paranoid because of them.

Jake-off (author)Cousin eddie2008-06-05

even then, how do you know they're not using them to spy on their patrons

Big Bwana (author)Cousin eddie2008-05-12

They do sell RF camera detectors, and you can't hide from the RF emissions coming from every camera wireless or not, and you can even get one which will allow you to see what the camera sees if it's wireless ( Yes people cheap out when it comes to security and there's nothing like using there own camera to find it ) ... And why use a pinhole camera, because once you catch some one stealing from you, you have lost on average what $2600 to $4000 (( Yes employees that steal, steal more then the consumers $300 to $500 average )) Why not put up large easy to see cameras, and stop the theft before it happens .... (( I to have seen pinholes in action , and I've also seen no action on clearly visible cameras, and for real security the resolution of a pinhole sucks even against a cheap camera, and they are not even close to a Sony / Bosch camera ))

Cousin eddie (author)Big Bwana2008-05-13

Yeah, but the smart thieves are the ones that manage to work around the obviously placed cameras & still steal. So the employer still ends up losing money.

robac (author)Jake-off2008-05-09

never met with such a phenomenon, but hmmm, that starts to make some sense ;p

Jake-off (author)robac2008-05-10

and everything comes together.

SnuffyDaPenguin (author)robac2008-05-24

If you find no point in the instructable then you have no point in posting. Leave. We've had enough of your kind on this site.

ithewicked (author)2013-07-21

Thanks Cory Doctorow for the great instruct able mate!

fnerstheimer (author)2013-05-25

maybe he was a tourist in north america?

pporrtterr (author)2012-08-10

wait.... you actually FOUND a pinhole camera in your house? what are you, a cia agent?

omoseyi (author)2011-02-24

wow this is what we call camera i will get it........

Ranie-K (author)2010-05-20

Here's my version -not very different -just with a red filter and a demonstration on video:

haunted_lady (author)2010-04-01

 Stop saying he is paranoid. People are creepy and why else would all these spy cameras be sold if no one is spying? 
Fear breeds watching.
So if you find a camera take a photo of the room and extend that photo
from the wire in front of the camera...the watcher will think the room is always empty till it dawn on them the room is always sunny never gets dark
Sad...Sad we have to live like this I wonder if we are all stressed because we do feel this way. Living in a culture that is always wondering what people are doing.. Here I will show you * picks nose*

Gage987 (author)2010-01-29

I would take a fillips head screwdriver to it
O <----l==l

Camera Guide (author)2009-09-03

you need to know more details about the camera

gimmelotsarobots (author)2008-05-09

where in the world were you when you found a camera in the wall?

thats what i was wondering like what would make you suspect u have one in ur house?

They are normally not in walls, but in items on the wall or ceiling, thing's like clocks, radios, smoke detectors, fire sprinkler heads, motion sensors, light fixtures, pictures, vents, heaters, you name it and it can have a camera hidden in it, but doing it on a flat white gypsum drywall it's very annoying which translates into expensive so it's not as common ....

flashcactus (author)Big Bwana2009-03-25

yeah... i've seen some annoying cameras disguised as smoke detectors. I've disabled them by sticking some duct tape onto the fake smoke detectors

I actually found a site that sold all this once. They are pretty easy to find. I've just never actually heard of one being in a wall. "What's that shiny black dot on the wall?"

slater555 (author)2009-07-25

As a Private Detective I have had clients ask the same question, how do I detect a hidden camera wireless or hardwire? Well I asked the tech guys at <a href=""> Airtight Video</a> and they have a device very similar to the one described here, except you don't need a flashlight or a dark room and if you see a camera it will show up as a red dot in the eye piece of the device. It is like looking through a camcorder eye piece and any cameras that can see you will be high lighted as a red dot, easy to spot. Then move to either side until the red dot disappears. At this point you are no longer in the camera's field of view and can not be seen. Now you can approach the camera without being seen and deal with it. Those tech guys got all the answers

enterthehatrix (author)2009-07-20

Truman Burbank could have learnt a thing or two from this.

stimky666 (author)2008-05-10

How to detect Pin-hole cameras--- Cover ALL tiny holes you see with duct tape, or a putty of some kind. Bingo. rofl. considering pin-hole camera holes are super tiny and almost invisible to the naked or untrained eye, you might as well cover every --suspicious-- looking hole you find. It will take up your evening covering one room... so your best to just hide under the bed.

karlarward (author)stimky6662009-02-20

that, plus try digging out the hole looking for the cameras they would've had to hide the cameras, fix the wall then paint

Jasekillingspree (author)2008-07-24

Hmm... will this work with lights on, or lights off? or perhaps with the sun shining in or something? Im guessing its better with lights off, seeing i always love to find stuff in the dark.

piekid (author)2008-07-13

im the one who put them in your house. think of it as a game a set up hide and seek maby? be creative! sweet me like.

legionlabs (author)2008-05-09

I've heard from attendees of conferences where no photography is permitted, that the host announced they have some method of detecting camera use even if you don't use a flash. I imagine it must be some technique that takes advantage of this effect. Perhaps just a video camera, and a light outside of the visible spectrum.

okto (author)legionlabs2008-05-18

Easy to defeat: use film. A mechanical film camera emits no more heat than a pen.

legionlabs (author)okto2008-05-18

You're right, although I've certainly seen mechanical film cameras that use some fairly fancy electronics. I suppose lens detection is a better technique after all... although how would it avoid detecting people's eyes? If you've ever accidentally shone a flashlight into a cat's face in the dark, you know what I mean!

gschoppe (author)legionlabs2008-05-09

in most cases, they watch via infra-red for "hot" electronics... this works well for camcorders in theaters.

Southpole (author)2008-05-13

i tried it and ... phook... i found one right in my laptop screen. i wonder who put it there... and how ...

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